tampabay.com

Developer gets some wiggle room

The builder of an office complex has a backup plan, thanks to approval from Pasco planners.

By CHUIN-WEI YAP
Published April 13, 2007


DADE CITY - Ashley Glen, the proposed 1.8-million-square-foot office complex at the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54, is expected to require $27-million worth of road improvements.

Negotiations with regional planners are continuing, but the dollar amount is causing enough angst for the developer that it decided to take out a form of insurance Thursday.

That's when Pasco's top staff planners gave their approval to allow Ashley Glen to keep its earlier county-awarded designation as a largely residential project, should negotiations with regional officials fall through on the multistory office proposal.

That's not an outcome the developer, JES Properties, or the county wants.

Unimpressed by the prospect of a purely residential project at a prime corner of Pasco real estate, top county officials in early 2005 threw their weight behind creating the biggest office park in the county, complete with tower blocks that could rise 11 stories beside the highway.

That's when they brought JES into the picture to revamp an 800-home proposal by Standard Pacific Homes. Late last year, the county had, in fact, encouraged JES to increase its office square footage from 1.2-million to 1.8-million, said Doug Weiland, JES's president.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Weiland and Steve Booth, the developer's attorney, said negotiations with regional planning officials are still going well.

But Booth said road improvement costs, which are billed to the developer as its "proportionate share" of the impact on local traffic, were always a matter of concern.

At Thursday's Development Review Committee meeting, county planners also approved a clutch of technical changes to the county's development blueprint to let JES Properties press on with its office project.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at 813909-4613 or cyap@sptimes.com.